Silica is a natural mineral that is vital to the human body.
Silica is found in dark leafy greens, grains like oats and brown rice, vegetables, alfalfa sprouts, alcohol, mineral water, seafood, coffee and more.
Silica has gained popularity in recent years as its associated with better skin, hair, and nails and overall connective tissue strength.
Being deficient in silica can lead to a loss of skin elasticity, wrinkles, brittle nails, and weakened hair.
DISCLAIMER: While this information was prepared by a certified dietitian, it is NOT a medical advice. Please consult your own medical professional before altering your diet. The information is strictly for educational purposes.
How to make sure you’re getting enough silica every day? Below are some of the foods with the highest amounts of silica content.
Plant Foods High in Silica
Many plant foods have high amounts of silica in them.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach not only contain fiber, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium but also have around 6-7 milligrams of silica.
Green beans are among the best sources of silica, with one cup having about 7 milligrams of silica.
Asparagus supports the liver and kidneys but also strengthens the skin, ligaments, and bones due to its high silica content.
Artichokes are rich in antioxidants and support skin health, digestion, LDL “bad” cholesterol, and liver detoxification.
Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, and Tomatoes
Eating any these veggies is a great way to incorporate silica into your diet. Not only does their high water content makes them hydrating, but they’re high in silica as well.
Silica is high in plants that grow underground. Thus, root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots, and radishes are high in silica.
Make sure to eat the skin as most of the silica is found in the skin of these vegetables.
Alfalfa sprouts, which are grown from the seeds of alfalfa and are popular garnish on dishes, are also great sources of vitamin K and silica.
Animal proteins and products have very small amounts, if any, of silica in them. Plant proteins on the other hand are high in silica.
Soya and Tofu
Soya and tofu are soy bean products that can be used in place of meat in vegetarian or vegan dishes.
They are rich in both protein and silica as just one serving of them provides you with 4-5 milligrams.
Bananas are a great source of silica; there’s almost 5 milligrams per a medium-sized banana.
Bananas are great not only because they’re packed with silica, potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6 but also because they’re easy to eat on the go or carry around in your bag for a snack later.
Mangoes are also high in silica, so during summer when mangos are in their peak season be sure to grab one as it contains over 20 vitamins and minerals, including silica.
Cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew are all high in silica. They’re also have a high water content which hydrates your skin.
Dried fruits are also a great source of silica- raisins have over 8 milligrams per serving.
Rice and Oats
Grains like brown rice and oats are a rich source of silica. Every type of rice actually has silica in it, but brown rice contains the most, with almost 5 milligrams per serving.
Whole Grain Bread
Whole grain bread has almost double the amount found in oats and rice, at 8.94 milligrams of silica per serving.
Other types of breads like white and whole meal bread have silica too but a much smaller amount (about 2 milligrams).
Millet and Barley
These are easily grown grains that are the base of many foods we eat.
Not many people eat millet and barley in their whole forms anymore but they are used to make popular foods such as breads, cereals, granola bars, beer, pasta, and more.
Millet and barley are high in silica and is what gives bread its high silica content.
A factor that makes these grains great sources of silica is the minerals stay intact during processing.
Unlike other processing or cooking methods that can break down nutrient content, silica levels stay consistent in grains.
Cereals are also a great way to intake silica since they are made from grains.
Cornflakes and other high bran cereals like raisin bran have the highest silica content.
Other Foods High in Silica
Since certain grains are high in silica, drinks made from these grains also have a good amount of silica in them.
A 100 ml of beer has around 4 milligrams of silica, which is about a quarter of the recommended daily intake.
Wine contains silica as well, although its much less than beer with about 1 milligram per serving.
This form of water is extra hydrating as it contains naturally occurring electrolytes and nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and silica.
While purified water is typically the most common water beverage, the purification process that pulls out the chemicals and contaminants also pulls out the good compounds (the silica, magnesium, potassium, and calcium).
Opt for mineral water when possible for an extra dose of nutrients.
Most people’s silica probably comes from their consumption of coffee, as coffee is one of the main sources of silica in the average person’s diet.
One cup of coffee has about 7 milligrams of silica (about 30% of the average intake per day).
A study testing the absorption of silica found that silica excretion (which means your body is not absorbing it) was highest with beer.
Silica supplements and food sources, especially green beans, yield the highest absorption rates.
Like animal products, seafood is generally low in silica with one exception, mussels.
Mussels are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and provide 2-3 milligrams of silica per serving.
Nettle leaf, horsetail, and rose hips are rich sources of silica. Nettle leaf, a plant that has been used in traditional medicine for years, is especially high in silica.
1 gram of nettle leaves, which can be steeped to make tea, provides 5 milligrams of silica. Horsetail, another ancient herb, gets 25% of its weight from silica content.
Dandelion, which can be used to make tea, is high in many minerals like silica, zinc, copper, and phosphorous.
Benefits of Silica
In the human body, silica provides strength and flexibility to the connective tissues (cartilage, tendons, skin, bone, teeth, hair, blood vessels).
All the connective tissues is made up of collagen, a protein that requires silica to be present in order to be synthesized.
As you age, silica levels naturally drop, which is thought to be associated with the weakening and thinning of connective tissue that occurs with age.
Some small studies suggest silica supplementation may increase collagen formation and thicken hair and nails.
Although there is little known on the exact mechanisms of how silica is processed and utilized in humans, small amounts of it in the body are necessary for optimal functioning.
Since silica supports connective tissue strength and collagen formation, it can help strengthen your bones and lower your risk of osteoporosis.
It also has been shown to lubricate your joints and reduce pain associated with arthritis, which is when your joints are inflamed.
Silica also has anti-aluminum properties and can help detox aluminum from the body.
Did You Know?
Silicon-rich mineral water has been shown to remove aluminum from the body by binding with aluminum in the intestines and being excreted out. This is important with Alzheimer’s disease; some people think silica could prevent it.
High silica levels also appear to lower the risk of dementia.
Other Silica Uses
It’s an important component of the food industry.
It’s commonly added to supplements and seasoning powders as an anti-caking agent, which keeps ingredients from clumping up. It’s also used as a filler in paints, plastics, and rubber.
How Much Silica Should You Have?
There isn’t an exact recommended amount of silica because it’s not recognized as an essential nutrient. However, the FDA recommends no more than 10-30 grams of silica per day.
For adults ages 19 to 50, about 9-14 milligrams per day appears to be a sufficient amount.
Since it’s a water-soluble compound, if you do consume too much your kidneys will filter it and the excess will be passed out of the body via urine.
High amounts of silica have only proven to be harmful if being inhaled in dust form. Silicosis, a fatal lung disease, occurs from chronic inhalation of silica dust.
This can occur for those working in professions like construction or mining.
There are multiple silica supplements on the market, but the consensus from dieticians is eating a diet with adequate amounts of whole foods, especially the foods listed above, should cover your bases.
But if you don’t eat many of the foods listed above, consult with a doctor and decide if a silica supplement is right for you.
There are many brands to choose from and easily accessible sites like Amazon have lots of options.
Here’s a couple of dish options you could make for a silica rich meal
- Spinach salad with tomato, cucumber, feta, bell pepper, and a vinaigrette dressing.
- A tofu bowl with brown rice, sautéed spinach, bell pepper, and broccoli.
- An oatmeal bowl topped with diced mango, granola, and banana.
- Granola bars- if you like to bake, try making your own granola bars with oats, dried fruit, honey, cinnamon, and melted coconut oil.
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